On trugs and affaires de coeur…
Aficionados of a certain class of televisual whodunnit will be familiar with the scene, so picture it now:
A chocolate-box village invested with bucolic grandeur by the landscape that envelops it. Its artfully thatched cottages keeping a hirsute watch over their grounds; gardens that were crafted with love through the hazy days of tranquil summers past – the halcyon summers of her untroubled though solitary mid-life years. And now she kneels. Alone. Trowel in hand.
In faded redolence of her life a tired, but much-loved summer frock mirrors the careworn passion of her being. Her youthful countenance conserved by the wide-brimmed flowery hat that wards off the ageing ravages of the sun’s beguiling embrace and frames the handsome visage of a woman in her prime. How many times has her story been told? Morse? Miss Marple? Midsomer?
Midsomer! We know what happens next…
A never-was-and-never-will-be-beau from decades past returns to haunt the vestige of his youth. He rediscovers long-departed yearnings. He rediscovers her.
She screams! His heinous revenge, exacted for youthful, ill-imagined slights, leavens the madness of his life. His early passion unbeknown to her. Unbeknown and unrequited. For him, unforgotten. His madness now destroys the daylight dreams that once consumed his waking hours. Her scream subsides.
She lies there. Still and silent amid the splendour of her flowers. The tools that shaped her garden recline solemnly beside her in an open casket, a hand-crafted gift of yore; a simple wooden trug.
“She obviously lived alone” said Barnaby.
“How so?” asked his young sergeant.
“The trug” he replied, “it’s a dead giveaway. You see, at a certain age they replace the men in their lives with a trug. Never forget that Troy”. He sounded bitter.
The older man continued: “The day will come when you too will be asked to forgo a romantic moonlit dinner or a picnic nestled by the river on a summer’s day. No more jewels or trinkets desired. No more weekend-away-surprises. No more négligée. No more déshabillé. No more passion. No more … you! Just a trug”.
Barnaby’s face fell as he remembered that day. The day that Joyce had told him she wanted a trug for her birthday “but not a plastic one”.
So with Cully’s help he had bought her a wooden one. An expensive hand-made trug sculpted from willow and chestnut, but it mattered not. Now viewed from marital exile in his cheaply rented rooms, his life had never since been the same.
But Joyce and her garden blossomed. Until, one day, a long-forgotten school-day confrère reappeared in her life.
He had worshipped her from affair, but she hardly knew his name, or cared, as she collected her tools in her trug.
In his lodgings, Barnaby heard a piercing scream rent the air…
“I’ve no need of a passionate hug”
She said with a nonchalant shrug.
“‘Cos I’ve now reached the age
Where I’d rather engage
With my garden; so get me a trug!”